So recently, we were collecting feedback from our 200+ sponsors at SaaStr Annual, and I noticed something odd. Our Sponsor NPS this year was 75, which is high in general and especially high for event sponsors. But when we then went to talk to them, we mostly got complaints.
It took me a cycle to figure out why, but the answer was obvious: we weren’t asking for feedback the right way. We didn’t tell them what was coming down the road at SaaStr, how it could help them, and engage them as part of the planning process.
We forgot to do a Product Roadmap Review. Once we switched to one, we got much more useful feedback on the future of SaaStr. More coming here soon!
So what’s a Product Roadmap Review — and why do it?
You can already tell what it is just from the title. It’s a review you often do 1-2 times a year, with at least your bigger customers, where you literally walk through the coming planned product roadmap. And if you can, as founders, join the meeting.
I know QBRs are the rage these days, but they aren’t the same. A QBR is often a disguised upsell. QBRs often have a very low-show rate. QBRs are often too tactical. And the folks that lead QBRs often don’t really know the product roadmap.
- The beauty of a Product Roadmap Meeting is senior folks will want to join it, especially if you show up in person. Folks that are bought into you as an app, as a vendor, will come. Because they want to see what’s coming, and have a chance to provide input. Versus getting folks to a QBR, which is often like pulling teeth.
- You’ll be surprised who comes if you do a Product Roadmap Meeting in person. Struggling to get that VP at your customer on Zoom? Well, she just might come to a Product Roadmap meeting. Especially if it’s in-person.
- It’s a great bonding moment with your customers. It shows you value and respect them. It shows they are a true stakeholder in your product.
- It elevates the whole CS experience if you combine it with a product roadmap meeting. Then it’s about the future, not just the past. About great stuff that’s coming, not just stuff that doesn’t work right today.
- It’s a great reason and even excuse to show up to visit your top customers as a CEO or co-founder. No better reason to go visit customers than to share what’s coming. They love it.
- I never lost a customer I did an in-person Product Roadmap Review with. Yes, sometimes I got some tough feedback. But we always came out closer. And the customers always felt heard.
I like this chart on Roadmapping from the Neilsen Normal Group. While it makes the process look a bit complicated, it’s a good reminder to include your customers at Phase 5 of building a product roadmap:
Now a quick note — a Product Roadmap Meeting is not remotely the same as publishing your product roadmap. I like that, too. But most folks won’t pay much attention to that, nor is it a bonding experience.